Mission Trip in Jamaica

My wife and I just returned from a week long Mission Trip in Jamaica.  Together with other members from our Church, we all went down to visit, help out and worship with a Church in Jamaica.  Most days were filled with building a swing set, doing maintenance work on the building, harvesting moringa tree’s or spending time with the local children.  Being that I was designated the ‘photo guy’ by our team members, I had my camera on me the whole time to document the trip for our Church.  With what little free time I had, along with a free day at the end of the week, I managed to sneak in some creative photography for myself.  It was an eye opening trip and my wife and I can’t wait to go back.

On a side note, I packed very light and only took my X-E1 and 18-55mm lens with me.  All shots were processed in Lightroom on my Windows 8 tablet.  The combination was perfect for shooting and processing on the go.  The bag I used was the Thinktank Turnstyle 10 and even when fully loaded, it never weighed me down.  See my other post for more details on my travel kit.

My small travel kit

One of the many issues I face whenever I travel or go away camping for a weekend is what to bring.  Most people worry about clothes, toiletries or other essentials, but not I.  The first bag I pack is always my electronics bag.  This includes a camera, lenses, filters, memory cards, extra batteries, some kind of computing device, lens cleaning supplies and anything else that would relate to photography and computing.  Needless to say, this bag normally gets heavy.  I wanted something smaller, lighter and able to fit easily under an airplane seat, yet still hold everything I would need.

So in my quest for a much smaller and lighter travel bag, I came across the Thinktank Turnstyle 10.  It’s a medium size sling bag that has an assortment of storage compartments and would be a good fit for light hiking, biking and just walking around.  It seemed like a good start.

Next was always the question of processing and backing up of images while on the trip.  If it was a longer trip, the MacBook Pro travelled with me, but this required a larger and heavier bag.  If the trip was shorter, then I’d toss in an old 10″ Android tablet, however this was very limited on what it could do since Lightroom isn’t supported.  If only a small tablet had a full operating system on it…

Enter Windows 8.1 and a whole host of new 8″ tablets from Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba and others.  The specs looked good and I was able to find a single youtube video of a guy running Lightroom on one, so I ordered a Toshiba Encore 8.  It has an 8″ screen, microUSB, microHDMI, a microSD card slot and since it’s an x86 processor, runs the full Windows 8.1 OS, meaning I can install Lightroom.

I received it a few days ago and so far I am mighty impressed by the diminutive tablet.  Lightroom runs fairly well, I can connect external disk drives and USB flash drives to back up and also SD memory cards through OTG cables.  The tablet works well using nothing but finger input or even better with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo.  Either way, I now have the ability to process images on the go in a very small device.  The greatness of that is once I get home, everything I’ve done to those images will transfer directly into my main Lightroom library.  Overall, it’s very capable and I have no problem using it.  Below are some examples of how it looks.

Now that the tablet is sorted out, my next tough to pack item has always been a tripod small enough to go anywhere, but sturdy and capable enough to handle more than just a tabletop.  The answer finally was revealed to me in a photography forum by someone extolling the virtues of the Velbon Ultra Maxi Mini tripod.  With the exception of the name, this tripod is a great addition to the bag.  It folds down to around 7″, but extends to almost 20″.  The legs have 3 angles and can extend in 5 sections.  The ballhead that came on it was rather large and overkill for such a small tripod, so I replaced it with a Giottos Mini Pro ballhead to make it even more compact.  It holds up my Fuji X-T1 with no issues.

With the difficult stuff packed, the rest of the gear goes in the bag quite easily.  Now all I need to do is a take a trip somewhere.

The Frozen Lake

Now that I’ve received the new Fuji X-T1, I’ve been itching to get out and use it.  Fortunately (for photography’s sake), winter storm Titan graced us with 4 inches or snow of fresh snow and very cold temperatures.  Today though, the skies were clear and the sun was out and I was inside working.  After dinner, I finally made it outside and quickly drove over to Greenlick Dam to catch the sunset.

Winter Hiking at Ohiopyle

With almost a foot of snow on the ground and the skies clearing up a bit, I headed out to Ohiopyle with a bag full of camera gear and a tripod.  Nothing much to say about this, the beauty of it speaks for itself, much better in person obviously.